China launches its first aircraft carrier

But it’s used and has no planes. China bought the vessel in 1998 from Ukraine and had it refurbished – few details of its capabilities are known. But, from Reuters, “defense experts say it lacks the strike aircraft, weapons, electronics, training and logistical support it needs to become a fighting warship.” And so it will stay in the training fleet until they figure out how to land a plane on it.

The response has largely been mocking, from the Brisbane Times, ”if it is used against America, it has no survivability. If it is used against China’s neighbours, it’s a sign of bullying.” And those neighbors are the ones in the crossfire. Japan has disputed territory with China in the East China Sea and the Philippines are arguing over a shoal in the South China Sea.

Still, it is a sign of the rising military power of the Chinese – after all, only 9 countries have an aircraft carrier. Seven of them only have one, Italy has two, and the United Kingdom only uses theirs for helicopters. So the launch could be a symbol of pride, that the Chinese are equal to the other powers. But they have a long journey ahead to challenge the United States and our 11 aircraft carriers.

 

Continue reading China launches its first aircraft carrier

NASA jumpstarts the electric airplane industry with ultra-efficient flights – 400 mpg

This story is a bit old (October 2011), but in light of Chip Yates project to create the first all-electric transatlantic flight, is worth reading about:

 

NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry. The technologies demonstrated by the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, competitors may end up in general aviation aircraft, spawning new jobs and new industries for the 21st century.

The first place prize of $1.35 million was awarded to team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pa. The second place prize of $120,000 went to team eGenius, of Ramona, Calif.

“NASA congratulates Pipistrel-USA.com for proving that ultra-efficient aviation is within our grasp,” said Joe Parrish, NASA’s acting chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Today we’ve shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice.”

The winning aircraft had to fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity. The first and second place teams, which were both electric-powered, achieved twice the fuel efficiency requirement of the competition, meaning they flew 200 miles using just over a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger.

“Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction,” said Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com. “Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation.”

 

Source: NASA Awards Historic Green Aviation Prize

 

 

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Teddy Bears are banned in Belarus – so democracy activists fly them in

On Thursday, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that a small aircraft piloted by democracy activists had violated Belarusian airspace in July when it crossed over from Lithuania. The aircraft was carrying a cargo of teddy bears, which parachuted into the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on July 4.

Lukashenko was peeved at his military commanders and air traffic control had failed to stop the plane’s raid into Belarus. Government officials have been trying to sort out how the activists planned the attack and why national security operatives failed to stop the small planes raid into controlled air space.

The plane was piloted by the cofounder of a Swedish ad agency on behalf of Charter 97, a Belarussian democracy advocacy group. The group has since organized other teddy bear assaults, including staging of teddy bears in front of the Belarusian Embassy in London-which caused embassy officials to call the police– to protest Lukashenko’s repression. Protestors have adopted the teddy bears as a symbol of resistance against Lukashenko.

 

Source: Foreign Policy – Teddy bear aerial assault over Belarus confirmed

 

 

Continue reading Teddy Bears are banned in Belarus – so democracy activists fly them in

Personal photos of the Space Shuttle Discovery arriving in Washington D.C.

Last week, a friend of mine, Kirby Plessas, witnessed the arrival of Space Shuttle Discovery into Washington D.C.

Here are some of the photos she took, see the full set on Flickr.

 

A crowd awaits Space Shuttle Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian in Northern Virginia (outside Wash DC).

 

Space Shuttle Discovery has arrived.

Continue reading Personal photos of the Space Shuttle Discovery arriving in Washington D.C.

For delivery only – photos/video of Space Shuttle being attached to Boeing 747

At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, initial mating of space shuttle Discovery and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is complete in the mate-demate device. The device, known as the MDD, is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the aircraft, or SCA.

Initial mating of space shuttle Discovery and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Space shuttle Discovery is lowered onto the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in the mate-demate device during mating operations.

The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites.

NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Mating device (front) attaching the ships together.
Mating device (dual rear) attaching the ships together.

Following delivery of Discovery, NASA 905 will ferry Enterprise from Udvar-Hazy to the Intrepid Museum in New York City. Endeavour is scheduled to be similarly moved to the California Science Center in Los Angeles later this year.

Learn more on the video from This Week in NASA:

A ton more picture are available at NASA Media Gallery

Space shuttle Discovery gets a piggy-back-ride on a Boeing 747

NASA’s space shuttle Discovery is set to land in Washington, D.C. this April, where the now retired fleet leader — the world’s most flown spacecraft — will be welcomed by the Smithsonian Institution during a four-day public festival, museum officials said on Tuesday (Feb. 28).

Flying from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, Discovery is scheduled to touch down at Washington Dulles International Airport on April 17, weather permitting. It will then be offloaded by crane and towed to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, two days later.

via Collect Space

The plane is called – Shuttle Carrier Aircraft

 

// Photos – NASA, Wikipedia